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In the opposite order to what was, surely, his initial plan, the mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, has decided to move forward with the municipal budget and leave for the future the construction of an absolute majority on council, through the support of 21 councillors to give stability to the governance of the city. He is not going to move the city accounts forward in a way that is, shall we say, orthodox, but rather, since he doesn't have enough votes, in the extraordinary meeting of the council economic committee next Tuesday, February 20th, he will link the budget to a confidence question, a manoeuvre permitted by the by-laws that will lead to its approval if the opposition is not able to initiate, within thirty days, a motion of no-confidence led by a councillor in a position to win such a vote by an absolute majority. Something that, with the current council, will be difficult to achieve.

Where are there 21 councillors who will vote against Collboni? You can do all the arithmetic you want, but the balance doesn't change. With the 10 seats held by Collboni's Catalan Socialists (PSC) on one side, there are, on the other, the 11 of Xavier Trias (Junts), the nine of the Comuns, the five of ERC, the four of the PP and the two of Vox. There could only be an absolute majority against the PSC through a political impossibility, which would be an agreement between Trias and the Comuns. So it's game over. In addition, during the next few weeks, it is more than likely that the five ERC councillors will end up joining the current government team, since the party seems to have plenty of intention, so the 15 councillors of this new government team would be the same as Xavier Trias had in his 2011-2015 term, also the same total as Ada Colau in the first Comuns term (2015-2019) - her 11 plus the PSC's four - and three fewer than the 18 that were added by Comuns and Socialists in the four years of Colau's last term. Seen from this perspective, 15 councillors could give enough Collboni enough buoyancy to keep him afloat.

In this squaring of the circle carried out by the mayor, the only red line he will surely not try to cross is the incorporation of Colau and the Comuns into the government team. Collboni, who knows the lay of the land, is well aware that such a move could end up with the enmity of sectors who do not want to see his mayoral predecessor anywhere near city government. In addition, the idea is spreading that, since she has not climbed aboard the buses heading for destinations in Spanish or European politics, her political future is tied to the city of Barcelona in the 2027 municipal elections. In fact, her public presence is increasingly evident in all types of events. From theatre performances to gala dinners at international conferences held in Barcelona, such as the successful ISE fair held in January. Given that, I doubt very much that the Socialists are going to do her many favours.

There is a phrase that hits the spot among the PSC: individually, they say, we can get along with all of them, or almost all, but collectively it is something else

The situation with Junts is moving via a different route, but toward a similar result. There is an underlying truth that always makes itself visible at the moment of truth: a Barcelona pact between the PSC and Junts is more popular in the backrooms than down on the field of play. But, in addition, with Xavier Trias due to leave the council sooner or later, as he has repeatedly announced, the Socialists are not sure that the basic conditions, meaning those of Junts's own needs, will guarantee smooth sailing and stability until the end of the mandate. There is a phrase that hits the spot among the PSC: individually, they say, we can get along with all of them, or almost all, but collectively it is something else. Which is a way of saying that they are no longer predictable.

To finish off, there is a very tangible reality. The assessment of Collboni by the people of Barcelona: he obtained a pass mark of 5.1 in the recent municipal barometer, something not achieved by the mayor of the Catalan capital since 2019. This is a reflection of several things. But, above all, that the tension that was experienced in the city has disappeared and 57.4% of Barcelonans approve of his first months in office. An assessment that also must have had its weight in considering that he is still quite comfortable coping by himself.